I give you due warning: this is different from the usual content of this blog, but if you want to truly know what stories I’m telling my kids these days, here they are. In addition to our fun Advent calendars and silly stories, I try to do a little reading with my kids each night that focuses on what Christmas is really about. I used to read from a children’s Bible, but they are just getting too old for that. Instead, this year, I’m trying to write something short for us, something that takes some of the important verses of the Bible but also is straight from me to them. I won’t have one for every day because that’s more than I can take on, but three or four times a week we’ll sit down and I’ll read, hoping a little truth gets through the impatience that this time of year generates. This is for my kids, but if you want to come along with us, you’re always welcome.
She was young. Old enough now to be considered a woman, to be promised in marriage to the local carpenter, but still young enough that all the changes in her body were new and uncomfortable. She knew she was a woman now, that she would soon be starting her own family, but most days she still felt like a child.
She lived in a small town. Everyone knew everyone else, and when the women met at the well in the mornings they talked freely about what their neighbors were up to. She kind of liked listening to this gossip, trying to understand the hints the older women dropped and tucking away bits of information to talk over with her sister at home later.
She believed in God with all her heart. She listened to the law read out every week in the synagogue, and at home her family tried to follow that law. It was often a lot of work to keep all the regulations, but her father insisted. From the time she was a child, he told her about the sacrifices the priests made at the temple in Jerusalem, sacrifices they had to make because God knew this people couldn’t follow the law perfectly. She tried to do her best, thinking of those animals that died because she failed, but sometimes it was hard not to covet her neighbor’s new dress or think disrespectful thoughts about her mother.
When the angel came, it was completely overwhelming.
The very idea that she could be the mother of the Messiah, the one her father always talked about, the one who would save them all from the evil Romans who ruled them. It was thrilling.
She felt honored. She felt important.
The very idea that she would be pregnant. That her body would be changing yet again, that a child would be growing inside her, that it would be God’s child, that it would just appear there. It was impossible to grasp.
She felt bewildered. She felt like she was in over her head.
The very idea that she would be pregnant! That she wasn’t married! That everyone would see that she was having a child without a husband. That her parents would believe the worst of her. That her future husband would despise her. That the whole town would gossip. It was humiliating.
She felt sick. She felt terrified.
All these emotions swirled around, a messy tangle, impossible to sort out.
But this was God. The Creator of the universe had decided to do this to her.
What could she possibly say?
“I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”